Monday, January 28, 2008

A couple of things concerning our animals that happened today made me really smile. I was working at Paul’s and Christiane’s (industrial-scale pig farming neighbours) renovation project and nipped home at lunchtime to speak to Gabrielle and make a couple of phone calls. As I walked past, I bid “good day” to our next door neighbour, an elderly peasant lady called Solange, and then walked up to our two rabbit hutches on wheels to move them onto fresh grass. Solange, an expert in rabbit raising, walked over and complimented me on the size and quality of mummy rabbit (who’s about the size of a Labrador dog) and her eight offspring, then warned me against giving them wet grass to eat. I remembered that when we were at her house on a previous occasion, I had picked some weeds and given them to her caged rabbits who looked hungry and she said the same then: anything you give rabbits must be dry. The consequences were as follows: wet weeds or grass will give them the “gros vent” causing them to “crèvent. In English, as far as I understand what she said, after eating wet green-stuff, our rabbits will let out a huge bunny-fart and then dramatically die, rolling over on their backs with their four paws in the air, surrounded by the pervasive and fatal air of a bunny bottom burp.

We have been feeding our rabbits huge amounts of very wet green food for all their lives and never yet heard the dreaded fatal cuniculine trouser cough. Once I’d retuned from my quick visit home, I put this theory to the assembled masses around the dinner table and they all agreed. I really don’t know what to make of this, as everyone seems so sure that this is the case but that’s just not our experience. If you have any advice to pass on, please post a comment.

After the obligatorily comprehensive French lunch, Paul and I accompanied Philippe to Kysinia’s house to discuss some wood that was useful for carpentry / joinery and could be “bought” in exchange for some for some firewood. As we passed back through our property, we came across our free range flock of chickens and I tried to coax a little bantam into flying up onto my arm, as she is inclined to do. She performed to order, to everyone’s amusement, which provoked Paul into a little party trick of his own. He pickled up one of our new ladies, the New Hampshire / Leghorn crosses we recently acquired for free, and firmly tucked it’s head down, while simultaneously pulling it’s wing up to cover it. He then held it “trapped” like this for a short while rocking it back and forward, much as you might imagine rocking a baby to sleep. He got lower with each swing until he carefully laid the sleeping, or perhaps rather hypnotised, bird on the ground, where it remained, motionless for quite a few moments before coming around: weird, amazing and true! (… if a shame that I didn’t video it to show you.)